- Angelique S. Chengelis, NASCAR
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The news Wednesday from Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., was grim -- the company will close all 30 of its manufacturing plants for a month beginning Friday because of sagging sales -- but indications are the company's involvement in NASCAR will not change.
An individual with knowledge of the situation said the closings will not alter Dodge's involvement in NASCAR. Dodge has contracts with Gillett Evernham, Penske Racing and Petty Enterprises. All will be honored next season.
"Dodge will be back next year," the official said.
Chrysler said in a release Wednesday that tighter credit markets are keeping potential buyers from the showrooms. With a slowing demand, the company said it must match production and save cash.
"Chrysler dealers confirmed to the company at a recent meeting at its headquarters that they have many willing buyers for Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles but are unable to close the deal, due to lack of financing," the company said in a statement. "The dealers have stated that they have lost an estimated 20 to 25 percent of their volume because of this credit situation."
Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. announced late Wednesday afternoon that it will shut down 10 of its North American assembly plants for an extra week in January because of the slumping market in this country. The annual two-week holiday shutdown will now be extended through Jan. 12.